Doing the groundwork

4th May 2012 at 01:00

So many children have "digital childhoods" - growing up in urban environments and cut off from nature - that the importance of regular access to outdoor learning and play experiences through the grounds of schools and nurseries cannot be overstated.

The benefits to teachers and pupils are being more widely recognised and schools are encouraged by Curriculum for Excellence to take advantage of them. Some Scottish schools are already breathing new life into their curriculum by taking it outdoors in inspiring and innovative ways.

Yet children around the world, growing up in very different environments and cultural settings, all have similar needs for healthy development, learning, and finding joyful, engaging childhood learning and play experiences. So a global network of organisations committed to improving children's well-being and enriching their learning and play by re-thinking the way school grounds are used has come together to form the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA).

The alliance is one outcome from a series of international conferences organised by its three co-founders: Learning through Landscapes (UK), Evergreen (Canada), and Bay Tree Design (USA). It brings together a wealth of experience in the fields of school ground use, design and management from around the globe and represents an unprecedented opportunity to combine the talents and expertise of leaders in this field, allowing them to build on one another's research and experience.

Through the new ISGA website,, inspirational case studies and videos, a growing library of research and an interactive forum will provide teachers with an opportunity to benefit from best practice from around the world and share their own experiences.

We invite organisations and individuals around the globe to join and declare their commitment to creating and caring for these special environments that support children and young people's learning, play and well-being.

Mary Jackson, development adviser, Learning through Landscapes (operating in Scotland as Grounds for Learning).

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